<i>Wall Street Journal</i> Questions Organic Skin Care Standards

LeafThe Wall Street Journal reports on the lack of standards in the growing organic skin care market. Sales of organic personal-care products rose almost 20% to $318 million -- about eight times the rate of increase in overall sales of cosmetics and toiletries, according to Euromonitor International.

The article Turning Your Skin Green chronicles the debate over labeling, standards and health benefits or organic products--generally defined as products made with ingredients grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified organisms.

The lax labeling standards allow some makers to call products organic, even if only a few ingredients or a small percentage of ingredients are organic. The lack of consistency in labeling can be confusing for consumers. Whole Foods Market and some environmental groups have formed a task force to push the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt standards for organic skin care. Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates the labeling of organic crop and livestock products, began allowing beauty companies to use its organic seal on products that meet its requirements for food. (The USDA accredits official certifiers, who handle certification of these companies.)

Consumers began seeking out organic beauty products in 2003, as sales of organic food boomed, says Virginia Lee, senior research analyst at Euromonitor. 'As consumers became more interested in what they're taking into their bodies, they've also become more interested in what they're applying topically to the body.' Some companies also grow their own ingredients, which appeals to customers wanting to avoid contaminated products imported from China.

Susan Rabizadeh, clinical instructor at the Johns Hopkins University dermatology department, told WSJ: There have been no scientific studies showing that organic skin-care products are better or worse for the skin than regular lines.